Time to Take Stock


I was invited to write for Adventure Park Insider earlier this year after running into the publishers at IAAPA in Orlando. Our goal is to support adventure park owners and leaders by providing relevant, research-based, and park-focused information on leadership and management.

Since then, I have posted several articles on adventureparkinsider.com. The following are the top five tips from the past few months. Learn more by reading the full articles online. And please, feel free to ask questions and share your experiences with us, too.

Employee engagement matters.
Engaged employees improve your business. Yet Gallup studies report that only about 20 percent of workers are “actively engaged” in their jobs. Typically, another 60 percent are “disengaged” (meaning they simply do their jobs and not much more). About 20 percent are “actively disengaged” and consciously undermining the organization. You can change these numbers: The biggest driver of employee engagement is the boss. Boss behavior has a measurable impact on engagement, which cascades down to productivity and bottom line results.

Emotional intelligence distinguishes good leaders from excellent ones.
Ever notice that some smart people are terrible leaders? And sometimes great leaders come from unlikely places? That’s because there’s no correlation
between brains and leadership effectiveness. But anyone can develop the skills of a strong leader. Researchers over the past 10 years have identified the traits all great leaders share: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. With coaching and practice, we all can develop into effective leaders.

Even talented teams tend to fail without adequate management.
Harvard professor Richard Hackman, who studied teams and their dynamics, discovered that the key factor for success is how a team is managed. Left unmanaged, he said, teams tend to fail—no matter how qualified their members are. Leading a team requires a balance of clarity, accountability, autonomy, and authority. Teams need a crystal clear mission and the space to experiment with solutions. Leaders who provide all of this to their teams reap surprising rewards.

Saying “yes” is an over-achiever’s dilemma.
The American Psychological Association sees a link between piling work on oneself and a phenomenon called “people pleasing.” That’s when your default setting is to say “yes” to requests for your time and attention. This is particularly challenging for achievement-oriented people who feel responsible for results. Over-committing can cause stress, and all the negative health effects associated with it, for you and those around you. Set a higher bar for accepting requests by “interviewing” the request first to ensure the idea or project is worth your time.

Seasonal transitions test your leadership range.
During the peak season, the relentless pace causes you to lead like a quarterback. Now that customer volume has slowed, you may want to lead like a head coach. Your most loyal and experienced staffers require a different kind of leadership than your seasonal crew. Your top staff are engaged and understand the nuances of the business better than a seasonal worker. They will have ideas and recommendations that could mean more customers, larger margins, or cost savings. Lead these insightful staffers thoughtfully during the transitional season to set up your park for peak success next year.


About Author

Paul Thallner is CEO and Founder of High Peaks Group, a U.S.-based consulting firm that helps leaders and organizations tackle the tough people challenges in order to accelerate business performance.

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